What is spam?
Spam is the common term for electronic 'junk mail' – unwanted messages sent to a person's email account or mobile phone.
The content of spam messages varies. Some messages promote products or services, while others attempt to trick users into providing bank account or credit card details. Many spam messages contain offensive or fraudulent material, and some spread computer viruses.
Spam now makes up the majority of email traffic. Billions of unwanted spam messages clog up the internet, disrupt email delivery, reduce productivity and irritate users.
Any message that doesn't meet the following three conditions is defined as spam:
- Consent – the message must be sent with your consent
- Identify – the message must contain accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message
- Unsubscribe – the message must contain a functional 'unsubscribe' facility to allow you to opt out of receiving messages from that source.
Messages do not have to be sent out in bulk to be considered spam. Under Australian law, a single electronic message can also be considered spam.
Australia’s anti-spam legislation – the Spam Act 2003 - covers email, instant messaging, SMS (text messages) and MMS (image-based mobile phone messaging) messages of a commercial nature. It does not cover faxes, internet pop-ups or voice telemarketing. Telemarketing calls are covered by the Do Not Call Register.
Visit The Spam Act and codes of practice section for more information about identifying spam. Our Frequently Asked Questions pages also provide detailed answers to: